India Against Corruption (IAC) coordinators held a closed-door meeting at their Chakala office on Friday, where they discussed measures to gather people for a rally planned at Azad Maidan on July 25 in support of Anna Hazare, who will be protesting in Delhi for the passage of the Lokpal Bill on the same day. This, after a rally at Azad Maidan in December last year and the one in May this year at Parel’s Kamgar Maidan, organised by Hazare’s NGO Bhrastachar Virodhi Jan Andolan (BVJA), had failed to gather any crowds.
IAC also made an official application to Mumbai police last week, asking for permission to use Azad Maidan for a protest rally.
When Hazare came to the MMRDA grounds in Bandra Kurla complex in December 2011, poor crowds dampened the show. Even when the activist addressed the public at Kamgar Maidan at Parel in May 2011, the lukewarm response raised serious doubts about people’s support for his agenda.
This time round, volunteers have already started moving around the city, especially at local train stations, to motivate crowds to participate in the protest. Anjali Damania, IAC coordinator said, “Azad Maidan always has been our choice for all rallies.” Although sources tell us there are those within the IAC, who think Mumbai’s crowds do not feel connected with the movement, Damania denied any such regrets. “Our people are going to various areas and getting good support from the public. We are sure people will come and support us in huge numbers.”
Meanwhile, there are also rumours of tension brewing between IAC and BVJA, which both parties denied. Bhavesh Patel of BVJA said, “We are organising the rally together, and have already had a meeting with the IAC. So there’s no divide.”